Brewer's Invert Sugar (Part II)

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peebee

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I've separated this from the original which was getting a bit big. For anyone who wants to reference it, it's >here<.

I recently was looking up a bit of what was going on in Victorian times and early 20th Century. I started with easily accessible documents:
Invert‐sugar. (Part I.) - Heron - 1896 - Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing - Wiley Online Library
Invert‐sugar. (Part II.)* - Heron - 1896 - Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing - Wiley Online Library
and (brewery centric rather than the refiners POV) ...
The Preparation of Invert Sugar in the Brewery - Baker - 1902 - Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing - Wiley Online Library
They are a bit heavy going, but what you should be able to pick up is:

No.1, No.2 and No.3 Invert Sugars refer to something entirely different back in those days to what is referred to now (often represented by the Ragus range, and Ragus didn't come on the scene until 1928). Back then the number referred to the quality of the sugar source whereas now it seems to refer to the colour of the finished product. When did this happen?

Early on much was done to avoid caramelisation as it would reduce the extract introduced by the Invert Sugar. Inversion seems to have been a shortcut during the refining process to create a syrup for brewing (un-inverted it would crystalise at about 66%). Later it was speculated that having saved the yeast the effort of splitting (inverting) the sucrose, the yeast wasn't weakened over successive generations (i.e. this popular idea in the home-brewing community is still probably nonsense). Victorian "Invert" sugar was as clear as they could make it, they even pushed it through charcoal (animal bones!) to improve the clarity and reduce any flavours, but it was still a pale yellow and tasted of "honey".

I've just completed an AK recipe from Ron Pattinson's (@patto1ro) book ("AK!") in which he's quite clear that the sugars in the records consist of numerous un-known sugar compounds (probably cane molasses based for colour) which have been clumped together as an Invert No.1, No.2, etc. (Caramel coloured). I created an Invert Sugar No.2 for the recipe. Perhaps I should have used a darker coloured (molasses coloured) sugar?


That should put a cat amongst the pigeons? Note: No discussion about "Maillard Reactions"; this time-period pre-dates any knowledge of that.
 

peebee

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Well, I failed to "put a cat amongst the pigeons"; or else we all hate pigeons? But I did say something that would be worthy of contradicting:

... Ron Pattinson's (@patto1ro) book ("AK!") in which he's quite clear that the sugars in the records consist of numerous un-known sugar compounds (probably cane molasses based for colour) which have been clumped together as an Invert No.1, No.2, etc. (Caramel coloured).

Humm. Not that "clear" 'cos I was probably referring to his "Strong! Vol. 2" book not the "AK!" one (I've got loads of his books). And the comments are per recipe (his "Let's Brew" sidelines) such as:

... There has been a change in the sugar. Whereas pre-war it had been No.2 Invert, it's now something called "Garston BS". O <sic> know it has to be something dark, based on the beers BS was used in. I've substituted No.3 invert. ...

From "1924 Barclay Perkins KK", a recipe I've got lined-up next for brewing next.

To try and put that right: This is a long forum post (not this forum) on Invert Sugar:

Making Invert Sugars

The first post repeats the making instructions at the now defunct "unholymess" Website. Including the so-called "dilution method". I was against the "dilution method" (which added molasses to "white sugar" invert or Golden Syrup to colour it) on the grounds that the flavour would be so different to No.2, No. 3, etc. Invert Sugar based on caramelisation for colour. With hindsight, that "dilution method" is probably much closer to historical reality than using caramelised invert sugar (pre-1930 or whenever - approximately when was that switchover date?).

The whole of that thread is interesting, but I only posted it for those "dilution method" Inverts, not because I support all that's said in the rest of the thread!


[EDIT: The AK I made mentioned in the preceding post was based on "1896 Rose AK" which I'm now saying would have been nearer the "original" if I'd fabricated a No. 2 Invert Sugar using the "dilution method" rather than the heat (caramelised) method I did use. The caramelised syrup was much better for spoon-licking though!]
 
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Druncan

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peebee

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@peebee, déjà vu ashock1, I'm researching similar areas for more practical reasons wink... I have 25kg of cheap sugar to invert, ...
:thumbsup:

Watch that (obsolete - there's another site now) "Sui Generis Brewing", there's something very wrong in the instructions: If you heat invert sugar to hard-crack temperature (creating "hard candi") - if you even can - the fructose will all have caramelised (it will do this if hotter than 110°C) making for a darker than expected invert sugar. I think he was just copying from early work making "hard candi"<sic - candy with an "i"?)> out of sucrose syrup, or else was failing to get "inversion" (i.e. no fructose)?

I cheat making "invert" by just using a reputable brand of Golden Syrup (Lyle's in my case). But I am wondering now if using Golden Syrup as-is for "No.1 Invert" might be overdoing it? People complain that Golden Syrup in beer is too "caramelly" and, having been given a sample of Regus "No.1", I'd have to agree (Regus "No.1" tastes of nothing much except sweet sugar). Golden Syrup might best be diluted (with glucose?) before using it as a substitute for No.1? I guess today's "No.1 Invert" (as a syrup) is much like the Victorian "No.1 Invert" i.e. both being fairly (but not utterly) colourless and tasteless.


I'm also dismayed to learn the "reputable" golden syrups are fabricated to get the "partial inversion" state. I guess sugar refining has come on a long way since Victorian times and they no longer make the "waste" from which Golden Syrup was scavenged? I've not tried to make "No.3" from Golden Syrup yet, so I'm just presuming there will be enough fructose to caramelise and get the colour.

And I do still believe "inverting" serves only one purpose for home brewing ... to create fructose. The fructose colours (caramelises) at lower temperatures and will help prevent syrups created from invert from crystalising. I've only come across one commercial suggestion that saving the yeast the job of inverting the sugar itself "weakens" the yeast, and that only because it will damage the yeast after several generations making it less fit to use in fermentations. I.e. Of no concern to home brewers except those very few who re-pitch their yeast for times on-end.

Before I go ... This is interesting, converting corn starch (and wheat starch?) to glucose:

The Manufacture and Use of Brewing Sugars in America

Note they are "converting" not "inverting"? No fructose (corn-starch -> maltose -> dextrose), so I guess no reversal (inverting) of optical rotation?




[EDIT: PS my latest Ron Pattinson book just arrived while writing this. "London!". A mammoth tome! Hence it costs a little more than his other books. Loads of tables! I'll go sit in the sun and read a bit.]
 
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peebee

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Oops! Seems one of my links above has been "corrupted"!

Home Brewing UK (without spaces) is the missing bit in the link if interested.
 

Druncan

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Cheers @peebee! I'll watch that, but I'm only going for the basic simple conversion thinking of 1kg + 1g Citric acid - 114*C for 30 mins. However I will be using bottled water to rinse everything as my CACO3 is 314 ppm,,,,, and I don't want crystals. What do you think? I'm making a turbo AJ cider and I don't want any caramel flavours! or just go with the sucrose? 🤔

HB forum post won't share here, but got it!

athumb..
 
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peebee

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Thanks! I'd just go with the sucrose. But I bet you find people who will disagree! (I'd be interested in their reasons).
 

peebee

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As I continue to track down when Invert Sugar became graded by colour instead of quality (purity) I came across this from Ron Pattinson:

Invert sugar
This was created by the hydrolosis of cane sugar, which was transformed into equal parts of glucose and fructose. Depending on the degree of purification, three grades of brewing sugar were made: No.1, No.2 and No.3. It was sold either as a syrup or in solid form. Invert sugar was used both in the copper and as primings. No.1 and No.2 were used in Pale Ale, No.2 and No.3 in Mild Ale and No.3 in Porter and Stout.
"Purification", not "colour". Like in those Victorian "Heron" papers I linked in the original post of this thread. Now Ron is a historian and even if he does make slipups with spelling and grammar (we all do!) he doesn't change the meaning of words to suit himself. The meaning is as he researched it.

Trouble is, that quote comes from this blog post: Sugar 1920 - 1939 (part one). A period when I thought this change of emphasis occurred. It could still be (Ron doesn't note any such change), but I'm still waiting for someone here to chip in with some facts about it ...



I'm intrigued by the comment "sold either as a syrup or in solid form". That might mean the trick used by Ragus of filling the Invert Syrup with 20% of glucose powder, or vacuum evaporation of water (the Victorians were well aware of this method). It was most certainly not heat evaporation without vacuum (mentioned above making "hard candi") as that would have caused unwanted caramelisation and colouration.
 

peebee

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Cheers @peebee! I'll watch that, but I'm only going for the basic simple conversion thinking of 1kg + 1g Citric acid - 114*C for 30 mins. However I will be using bottled water to rinse everything as my CACO3 is 314 ppm,,,,, and I don't want crystals. What do you think? I'm making a turbo AJ cider and I don't want any caramel flavours! or just go with the sucrose? 🤔
As you know, I'm no exponent of sugar "inversion" in home brewing except to create "fructose". But my views of sugar "inversion" are just that: My views! Yours may vary. So ...

I can't comment on whether 0.1% citric acid is enough, but I guess you've researched that. Your temperature should be lower than the syrup's boiling point which is fine (some people do believe the syrup has to boil, but it doesn't). But you are above the caramelisation temperature of fructose (110°C) but after 30 minutes I don't imagine there will be much colouration. You can add some fructose at the start to prevent crystallisation of your initial sucrose solution (🤷‍♂️ I've never done it). Would you actually get the initial temperature to 114°C with your sucrose solution given it must be below 66% to avoid crystallisation? Anyway, no matter.

And you can instead use Invertase enzyme and do the Inversion over several days at room temperature. But the enzymes aren't cheap (and seem to be in short supply at the moment?) and the "Victorian" method of using yeast (at fermentation disabling elevated temperatures) sounds messy.
 

peebee

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... And the comments are per recipe (his "Let's Brew" sidelines) such as:
... There has been a change in the sugar. Whereas pre-war it had been No.2 Invert, it's now something called "Garston BS". O <sic> know it has to be something dark, based on the beers BS was used in. I've substituted No.3 invert. ...
From "1924 Barclay Perkins KK", a recipe I've got lined-up next for brewing next. ...
Oops, I put a spelling mistake in there: It's "Garton" not "Garston". By some mystical coincidence both spellings mean something related to sugar refineries but translates to something entirely different! Garston is an old dock and sugar refinery in Liverpool; "Garton" is a chap in London who established a sugar refinery. No known (by me) evidence for Boddington's using Garston sugar, however conveniently close.

As I continue to track down when Invert Sugar became graded by colour instead of quality (purity) I came across this from Ron Pattinson:
Invert sugar
This was created by the hydrolosis of cane sugar, which was transformed into equal parts of glucose and fructose. Depending on the degree of purification, three grades of brewing sugar were made: No.1, No.2 and No.3. It was sold either as a syrup or in solid form. Invert sugar was used both in the copper and as primings. No.1 and No.2 were used in Pale Ale, No.2 and No.3 in Mild Ale and No.3 in Porter and Stout.
Here's another that Ron P. was none too happy about me quoting at him (defining purity over colour). But it seems my mistake here might be from listening to too many assumptions that there has been a total shift to "caramelisation" as a means to colour Invert Sugar. "Caramelisation" might only be a "component" in the colour and might not be there at all. This goes for Ragus Invert too - where does it say the colour stems exclusively from caramelisation? (Note: This is me reaching out for explanations, not me quoting Ron P.. I don't want to make him even less happy!).

Of course, this is going to offend anyone who's written out instructions to caramelise Invert Sugar. Well, tough, remember I'm one of those writers!

Another potentially offensive remark: So-what? Can anyone tell the difference what sugar is used (within reason!).
 

chthon

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Let's put on a scale the colouring of sugar:
  1. Just inverting
    1. colourless or coloured by impurities in the sugar juices
    2. Low pH: Acid environment needed for inverting mostly blocks maillard reactions
  2. Keeping at 110°: Fructose caramelises
  3. Increasing temperature to 140°
    1. Low pH: Acid environment will still slow down maillard reactions
    2. High pH: Stopping the inversion by adding lye will increase the maillard reactions
    3. Maillard reactions are because of impurities in the sugar juices: proteins
    4. Best temperature for maillard reactions is between 140° C and 165° C
  4. Increasing temperature to 150°
    1. Glucose starts to caramelise
  5. Increasing temperature to 160°
    1. Sucrose starts to caramelise
Maillard reactions are only described in 1912. So what sugar producers and brewers did up to then was purely based upon experience and observation (smell, taste, sight). No wonder they were keen to keep their recipes and processes secret.

The inversion process itself was already discovered in 1811 by Russian chemist Gottlieb Kirchhoff.

So, for English sugars, one should start out from unrefined cane sugar only, and only apply the processes inversion and heating. There could of course be some mixing, with darker coloured remains of the sugar refining process.
 

peebee

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... colourless or coloured by impurities in the sugar juices ...
Also coloured, as I've had to learn doing this exercise, due to the unavoidable breakdown products of fructose (e.g. >hydroxymethylfurfural<) which makes for a yellowish colour apparently. And are the reason invert sugars aren't 50/50 glucose and fructose in reality. Hydroxymethylfurfural is a suspected (i.e. "not proven") carcinogen; to scare the more "anxious" brewer!
 

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I'm going to have to read all that in peace and quiet. One of you should just manufacture invert sugar and sell it to homebrewers. Imagine the rush for people making traditional ale. Chop! Chop! :laugh8:
 

peebee

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... One of you should just manufacture invert sugar and sell it to homebrewers. Imagine the rush for people making traditional ale. ...
There won't be any such rush if I succeed in getting people thinking my way!

Like "Invert Sugar": I can only find a handful of credible reasons to use "Invert Sugar", some of them are out-dated and none of them are relevant to home-brewing! Making "Invert Sugar" by destroying perfectly good sugar by pretending to "invert" it then going on to caramelising it (heating it at elevated temperatures for hours on end) is insane: Not even "Ragus" (many home-brewer's mis-guided idea of the maker of "true" "Invert Sugar") appear to do much of that (just read their literature). Our Supermarkets have a vast range of cane sugars (often described as "raw" whatever they mean by that) that will do the job far more easily.



Told you I've changed me tune! Now I'll sit back and wait for the flak (perhaps?) :tinhat:
 

Andrew

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It's great to see so much discussion about invert. So important for UK beer styles and yet so vague aheadbutt

I'm going to try 70C process cire discusses on homebrewtalk based on Ragus methods (link below). I'm on my 21st attempt at TTL (because I can only get it on the rare occasions I'm back in the uk). So far with the higher temp invert methods (raw sugar with lactic acid in over for 1h 40m at 115.6C) I end up with something that is far too sweet.

Will try same with 70C method using acid rather than so much heat:
6 USG (5 imperial gallons) 9lb golden promise + 1lb invert added at end of vigorous fermentation

I really wish I understood this better!

 

peebee

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It's great to see so much discussion about invert. So important for UK beer styles and yet so vague aheadbutt ...
Cheers @Andrew. And I was expecting a much more ferocious response to my last post. I guess people here have gotten used to me and now just cover their ears/eyes and stand aside when I'm in rant mode?

Reason I was ranting is I don't like being sucked into subjects that I then learn is rife with B***S***.

... I really wish I understood this better!

Forgo crystal and use only invert?
Well ... careful what you wish for! Most of it is b******s. But thanks for posting it. You picked out a reply from "cire", and things only began to make sense from him. I actually thought Ragus did do a little caramelising, but "cire" links Ragus online documents to the contrary and, like you've picked out, never get the temperature above 70°C (even fructose requires 110°C to caramelise). The conclusion being there is no caramelisation, or even "Maillard reactions" (a favourite buzz word with homebrewers), with Ragus Invert. That's going to turn a few stomachs! I'd avoid the conc. Hydrochloric Acid though! In fact, I'd avoid the entire "inversion" process if I was you. You (as a homebrewer) don't need it!

Brewing Sugar | Custom Formulations | Ragus - Pure Sugars & Syrups
 

peebee

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Something I found out while researching this "Invert Sugar" caper (unrelated to the thread really): "Ragus" is inverted "sugar" (sugar spelt back-to-front). I've been a bit slow! But I bet there are others reading this that didn't know that either.
 

peebee

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Crikey. I've just found out who this "cire" character is. No wonder I agreed with what he said, I base a lot of my ideas on what he says! That's not suggesting he entirely believes what I then go on to say! 🤫 I'd just like to say, if "cire" is saying it ... :thumbsup:
 

Erik The Anglophile

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Cheers @Andrew. And I was expecting a much more ferocious response to my last post. I guess people here have gotten used to me and now just cover their ears/eyes and stand aside when I'm in rant mode?

Reason I was ranting is I don't like being sucked into subjects that I then learn is rife with B***S***.


Well ... careful what you wish for! Most of it is b******s. But thanks for posting it. You picked out a reply from "cire", and things only began to make sense from him. I actually thought Ragus did do a little caramelising, but "cire" links Ragus online documents to the contrary and, like you've picked out, never get the temperature above 70°C (even fructose requires 110°C to caramelise). The conclusion being there is no caramelisation, or even "Maillard reactions" (a favourite buzz word with homebrewers), with Ragus Invert. That's going to turn a few stomachs! I'd avoid the conc. Hydrochloric Acid though! In fact, I'd avoid the entire "inversion" process if I was you. You (as a homebrewer) don't need it!

Brewing Sugar | Custom Formulations | Ragus - Pure Sugars & Syrups
That's my thread.
What an honour!
 

peebee

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That's my thread. ...
Cor ... it was too! Hope you can forgive me for saying the thread was mostly b*******s? If you can, well ... the thread was mostly b*******s!

Here's an article that might back up my ranting: The Rise and Fall of Invert Sugar. It's from "Ed's Beer Site", a very useful Blog from a very knowledgeable chappie. I'm not against caramel flavours in beer or the interesting flavours that "Maillard reactions" might impart, but I get really wound up by the misinformation put about relating to "Invert Sugar". Few even know what the numbers mean now. I've even seen instructions to create "No.5 Invert Sugar". Geesh!

But what really p***** me off about the misinformation connected to Invert Sugar is ... I was getting suckered into it too!
 

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